Old North State Report - April 21, 2017
The legislature met on Wednesday and Thursday after a week-long recess for the Easter holiday. The committee and floor calendars were relatively long as members sought to have bills heard before the April 27th “crossover” deadline when non-fiscal pieces of legislation must pass one chamber or the other to remain eligible for consideration this session.
The General Assembly’s Fiscal Research Division has produced an analysis arguing the Senate's proposal to cut $1 billion in taxes over the next two years will lead to budget shortfalls starting in the 2018-19 fiscal year. There would be a $598.9 million gap between tax revenue and budget demands by 2021 assuming school enrollments and other ongoing commitments hold steady. Senate Republicans said the analysis did not account for economic growth (and thus increased state revenues) resulting from tax relief. House Republicans are expected to moderate the proposal in their version of the budget. Governor Cooper blasted the Senate bill as a “giveaway to corporations and the wealthiest:”
An effort to allow small breweries to self-distribute more beer and give them more leverage in distribution contracts has stalled after strong organized opposition from wholesalers and distributors. Before a scheduled House ABC committee hearing Wednesday, the bill’s sponsor removed provisions that would have raised the self-distribution limit for craft breweries from 25,000 barrels to 200,000 barrels and would have made it easier for a craft brewery to break off a franchise agreement with a distributor.
The House passed the BRIGHT (Broadband, Retail, Internet of Things, Gridpower, Healthcare and Training) Futures Act on Thursday by a 109-8 vote. House Bill 68 allows local governments to engage in public-private partnerships related to broadband networks without creating a mandate, subsidy, or tax. A legislative summary is available here:
Senate Bill 660 (“Economic Incentives Modifications”) cleared the Senate Commerce committee this week and now heads to the Senate Finance Committee. Senator Harry Brown, the bill’s sponsor, wants to direct more attention to rural areas by restricting the state’s $20 million JDIG program so that no more than half of the funds could be awarded to Tier 3 counties. Some lawmakers and Secretary of Commerce Tony Copeland said that lifting the cap on the self-funded JDIG program would actually do more to help economically distressed counties and avoid undermining the ability of metropolitan counties to continue attracting high-paying jobs:
The articles published in this newsletter are intended only to provide general information on the subjects covered. The contents should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Readers should consult with legal counsel to obtain specific legal advice based on particular situations.